“YCC Saved my Life. Without it, I probably would be dead or in prison.” Jimmy Ollie said. Before he was enrolled at YCC, Jimmie was in a gang, used drugs, and was in jail.
Jimmy’s wife, a YCC alumna, visited him while in jail and suggested that he join YCC’s YouthBuild Program. She said, “If you don’t make a change in your life, you’re going to end up back here soon after you’re released.” Jimmy took her advice. He applied and was accepted into the program.
Jimmy mentioned that the first time he was handed a hammer by our Construction Manager, it was life changing for him. He felt a level of trust and belief that he rarely felt from somebody before in his life. Jimmy went on to say that YCC staff saw leadership potential and goodness in him when the rest of the world only saw a gang member and his criminal record when they looked at him. He stated that he still struggles with his self-image. He doesn’t like to look in mirrors because he sometimes sees a bad guy. He and the YCC staff are working on changing that.
“YCC is like a family to me” Jimmy said. Growing up, Jimmy was in and out of group homes, lived without a home and in shelters. Because of this, Jimmy never felt completely safe and secure for most of his life. He always kept his guard up, fearing danger around the corner. At YCC, he doesn’t feel that way. Here, he’s able to let his guard down. He feels the trust, care, and compassion from staff that didn’t usually feel while growing up. It’s what keeps him coming back, he said.
Upon completing the program, Jimmy was no longer gang affiliated and he stopped using drugs. He spent the following two years mentoring other YCC YouthBuild members who grew up in similar circumstances, helping them overcome some of the same barriers that he did. He then spent another few years working on our Full Time Construction Crew, rehabbing and constructing affordable homes for families in Lake County.
Now, after recently passing several NCCER certification courses, he’s been hired by YCC as our new Construction Trainer. Jimmy is excited about his new teaching role. He’s looking forward to giving youth like him the confidence and skills to turn their lives around. His goal for the future is to take on more responsibilities, as he continues to grow within the organization.
At YCC, Jimmy serves as a constant reminder to staff and members of the potential for change and growth that everyone has within them and that everyone deserves a second chance. We couldn’t be happier to welcome him to our YCC staff family.